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Minister McEntee addresses AGM of National Association of Regional Game Councils

Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine today spoke at the Annual General Meeting of the National Association of Regional Game Councils at the Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise.

Minister McEntee thanked the Association for inviting him to speak at the conference and went on to acknowledge "the importance of field sports to rural Ireland and the role of your Association. Recreational game shooting is an integral part of many local communities.  Indeed even people not involved in their local gun club would be aware of when the pheasant shooting season starts - a clear sign of the onset of winter".

In relation to deer management, the Minister commented, "As the main hunting organisation in the state, we view NARGC as a key stakeholder in respect of deer management policy development. The issue of deer management has been gaining in significance, right across the agricultural sector over the past few years. There is considerable evidence to suggest that deer populations in Ireland have expanded in recent times and have already reached unsustainable levels in some parts of the country, causing damage to crops, forestry and wildlife habitats".

The Minister added that "The NARGC is perfectly positioned to help my Department move this issue forward with the co-operation of other interested stakeholders. With approximately 28,000 members and 926 clubs across the country, your organisation plays a pivotal role in the hunting and conservation sector", and invited the organisation to assist in the development of a workable policy framework for the sustainable management of wild deer in Ireland. Regarding the on-going threat of forest fires, Minister McEntee noted that there is further potential for co-operation between the Department and the NARGC regarding the promotion of safe and responsible use of fire as a land management tool as he understood that "the NARGC may have an interest in the issue in relation to its red grouse conservation project and the associated need for management of habitats". He concluded his address by wishing all the attendees a productive meeting and thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the meeting.

Date Released: 20 October 2012